Since the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), there have been and still are many health alerts and concerns around the world. We want you to know that we are vigilant in our efforts to provide you with correct information, especially in the areas of concern, e.g. – sharing air or other exercises, where students find themselves in confined spaces.
First and foremost, SSI defers to the medical authorities for correct and accurate information regarding COVID-19 – World Health Organization, Center of Disease Control and Divers Alert Network. Check the recommendations from Divers Alert Network here: https://www.diversalertnetwork.org/news/dan-encourages-divers-and-dive-operators-to-properly-disinfect-dive-gear )
All divers need to be responsible for their own well-being. As per the SSI Responsible Diver Code, if a person is not healthy – Don’t dive. Specific to the current spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), if a person has lung or upper respiratory congestion, the flu or flu like symptoms, they should not participant in dive activities.
Student Training – Simulate “Passing the Primary” skill. For this skill only, have the donor take the mouthpiece out of the mouth and act like they are performing the skill without the receiver actually taking their own mouthpiece out of their mouth.
Use the alternative skill of “Passing the Alternative Air Source.” For this skill, make sure the buddy teams sharing air remain with the same team throughout the entire in-water session. This will ensure that each person is using the same Alternative Air Source.
Professional Training – Simulate “Passing the Primary” skill. For this skill only, have the donor take the mouthpiece out of the mouth and act like they are performing the skill without the receiver actually taking their own mouthpiece out of their mouth.
Other ways to protect yourself by using personal mouthpieces on rental equipment to put on and take off during class and be self responsible for disinfecting. We must also be cognizant of the fact that failure to follow good preventative practices could lead to becoming infected.
Possibly the most essential thing in dealing with COVID-19 is personal hygiene and disinfection of dive gear. On a typical freediving day, nearly all equipment is under the threat of contact with the virus. Using clean gear is crucial to minimizing risk. Divers Alert Network (DAN) recently published an article on the disinfection of diving equipment. Based on their recommendations, the following materials should be used, according to manufacturer’s directions, to disinfect hard structured equipment like masks, snorkels, fins, and computers.
Traditional cleaning agents like antibacterial solutions, unfortunately, are not effective in fighting against coronavirus. If you don’t have, or if it is hard to find, these cleaning agents, here is another possible solution: scrub with hot, soapy water to keep your freediving gear clean and virus free.
Another point that we would like to mention is the importance of using personal equipment, and that it is kept only for yourself during this time. Are you using or planning to use rental equipment for your training sessions? If the answer is “Yes,” make sure your Training Center explains to you the procedures that they apply for disinfection. All SSI dive centers have been informed about proper equipment and facility cleaning procedures globally.
No matter how diligent in creating a sterile freediving experience, this is a team effort. Being responsible for both your own and your buddy’s wellbeing is the foundation of “SSI Responsible Diver Code.” Even if you are feeling only unwell, don’t go diving! This is not only for your safety but also for the protection of your freediving buddy team. If any flu or flu-like symptoms emerge, ask for the advice of a medical professional. Remember, COVID-19 can show different levels of symptoms in different people.
Additionally, we recommend setting some strict freediving rules and principles during this time. It is important to follow the recommendations of social distancing and not to have unnecessary physical contact. Usually, in safe freediving practices, and as promoted by SSI, the role of regular rescue training is crucial. During this time, however, we recommend postponing these regular drills to a future date. An alternative is to try verbally practicing these rescue drills, just like story-telling sessions, and to keep your personal distance within buddy teams. If you are planning to take a freediving course soon, take confidence in knowing that SSI freediving centers have been informed on how to adjust rescue skills to not include skin to skin contact.
We know that blackouts and LMCs are, in general, very rare in regular freediving. However, we would still like to advise you to keep your depths, distance, and times extra conservative in your training for now. This is to protect your buddy team from having to perform rescue procedures in the case of an emergency. Plan your sessions based on repetitions rather than maximum attempts. Focus on keeping your dives leisurely rather than risky.
It is a fact that COVID-19 is everywhere, and we all need to be vigilant in our practices. We should all be following the guidance of medical authorities and apply as many preventive measures as possible to our freediving
For any additional questions contact your SSI Service Center.